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The Most Important Lessons Prince Taught Us

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Photo by Peter Tea

As I read stories written about Prince since his untimely death, I realize there are some loud messages he’s left us to ponder. One of the most crucial is: it’s okay to be different. In fact, it’s not just okay. It’s important, necessary, vital even.

Prince never shied away from being different. Or confusing. Or undefinable. He reveled in it and boasted about it. He teased us to question who he was in lyrics like “Am I black or white/Am I straight or gay.” This is powerful stuff. In an age when people, especially kids, try to fit in, assimilate, blend, and not stand out, Prince deliberately defied categories: musical, sexual, racial, and cultural.

The beautiful thing is we are celebrating Prince for this. This is a positive step for humankind. Every article I’ve read in last few days, uses words like: different, renegade, visionary, “rewrote the rulebook,” inventive, imaginative, revolutionary to describe him. Nowhere have I read that his style and message were similar to anyone’s. Because there was no one.

We are a society that is not comfortable with ambiguity. We want explanations and definitions and delineation and compartments. Are you republican or democrat? Black or white? Gay or straight? Rich or poor? Christian or Jew? Man or woman? We don’t readily acknowledge the somewhere in between. Or things that lie outside a category. continue reading

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